Do you have something to say but you don’t know how to say it or where to start? If you write or draw then you already have all the skills you need – you just need to find your voice, because speaking up can be hard to do.

Firstly, it is important to recognise that illustration is a form of speech; we can use it to talk about issues and ideas and reach a broad audience. Illustration uses elements of communication, like writing, to convey ideas about the world we live in.

I began to think about this after hearing a talk, “How to speak up for yourself” by social psychologist Adam Galinsky. He says that speaking up can be risky – we have all felt that unease – and sometimes speaking up has gone very badly wrong.

He says we can be punished if we speak up; we might be ridiculed or ostracised.

For an illustrator, speaking up can raise concerns about our work or message being ridiculed or dismissed. We can fear being labelled or risk categorising ourselves out of commissioned work. However, I believe that drawing and illustration can be significant tools for speaking up. Drawing is a result of observation, I see injustice and want to do something about it. Therefore, as part of my activism, as part of my speaking up, I can draw what I see.

Galinsky has some advice. He is a negotiations researcher but I listened with the ear of an animal advocate and illustrator. He says we need three things in place before we reduce the risks of speaking up. Firstly, we need to find our moral convictions, recognise them and know what it is that we want to speak up for, and why. Then, we need to be in a position of expertise; this may be as revered professional but being passionate about a topic is enough to have the expertise to speak up.

Use evidence to demonstrate your expertise, especially if you are speaking out about ideas that challenge the mainstream. Finally, we need social support; we need allies.

For me, that passion, that expertise is animal advocacy, illustration and the two combined; one as part of the other.

But who are my allies? They may be illustrators, artists, but they, you, are most likely to be animal advocates, vegans, anyone interested in animal rights and the intersectionality of those rights with other rights.


The artist is ultimately responsible to the animal

– Steve Baker


Further reading




Baker Steve., (n.d.) Representing Animals, What does becoming-animal look like? In: Rothwels, N., (ed) (2001) Representing Animals Theories of contemporary culture, Volume 26. Bloomington, Indiana University Press p.67

Galinsky, A., (2016) How to speak up for yourself [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 March 2019]